Caving in the Ozarks
The Ozark Mountains near Branson are filled with amazingly beautiful caves and cave systems. Whether you are an avid spelunker or you are merely curious about the history and beauty of the Ozarks' caves, your family will love spending time exploring the caves in the area.
About forty miles outside of Branson sits the Fantastic Caverns. This cave system was discovered in 1862 and has the distinction of being the only ride-through cave in the country, making it great for everyone to enjoy. You will ride through a jeep-drawn tram, enjoying a one hour guided tour of the cave, learning about the formations and cave history.
Just minutes from downtown Branson in Branson West, you will find the Talking Rocks Cavern. The Talking Rocks Cavern gives your family an interesting look at the inside of the Ozarks. Both beginner and in-depth cave tours are available. Talking Rocks Cavern sits on a 400-acre nature preserve, where you will find hiking, picnic areas, a museum, gemstone mining, and mini golf. Bats are also visible throughout the year at dusk as they scurry from their home in the caves to catch their evening meal.
Inside Silver Dollar City in Branson, you can take a tour 500 feet inside the earth to view the Marvel Cave. Admission to this cave is included in your admission to Silver Dollar City. Tours run daily, giving you a chance to explore this geologic wonder as well as the culture of the Osage Indians who lived in the cave in the 1500s. Access to the cave involves 600 stairs, so wear your walking shoes if you plan to enter this cave.
Just north of Branson sits Crystal Cave, Greene County Historic Site that is interesting to both novice and expert spelunkers. In Crystal Cave, you will find many interesting rock formations in pristine condition scattered throughout many cave rooms. You can also view the Indian symbols that were painted on the walls hundreds of years ago by the cave's inhabitants.
As with all caves, you should wear comfortable walking shoes with a sturdy rubber sole, as the ground to the caves is typically moist and the paths may be steep at times. Caves are typically a moderate temperature year-round, averaging between about 65 to 75 degrees regardless of the temperature outside, so wear proper attire to ensure your comfort. You will also want to bring your camera with you to capture the natural beauty of the caves.
Caving is an exciting experience for all ages, giving you the adventure of exploring the depths of the earth as well as the educational aspect of learning about the history and geology of the area. Your family will love the experience of exploring cave systems on your trip to Branson!